Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said the No. 1 thing the offense needs to improve upon in its remaining games is to continue to improve its blocking inside the tackles.
On defense, Johnson listed a few things throughout an interview following Tuesday’s practice, including defense on third downs, creating negative plays (which the team did well in last week’s 35-24 win against Georgia Southern), and tackling.
Tech (4-3, 1-3 ACC) doesn’t have a game this week and will host Duke (3-4, 0-3) on Oct. 29.
“Just keep working,” Johnson said when asked how the team can improve its blocking.
The offensive line started two freshmen, Parker Braun at left guard and Jahaziel Lee at left tackle, against the Eagles. It was Braun’s second consecutive start and Lee’s first. The Yellow Jackets rushed for 279 yards, including 159 by B-backs Dedrick Mills and Marcus Marshall. It was the first time this season the B-backs surpassed 150 yards.
The Jackets are averaging 234.3 rushing yards per game, and 5.1 yards per carry. If the yards per game average holds, it would be the fewest since Johnson took over at Tech before the 2008 season. The previous low of 256.2 was set last season.
Johnson said the freshmen linemen, who are roommates, played well after reviewing the game film and that Lee will remain the starter until he is beaten for the job. Lee said he graded better than he expected and was happy to hear that Johnson said that as of now he is the starter.
“They knew where they were going,” Johnson said. “The more they play the better they will get.”
Offensive line coach Mike Sewak said he expects the linemen who are injured, a group that includes starters Trey Klock and Andrew Marshall, should return for the game against the Blue Devils.
As for improving the interior blocking, Braun said he can’t get any stronger during the season. He thinks the improvement will come with experience.
“Just firing off the ball and not worrying if he’s going to be in this gap or that gap …” Braun said.
Sewak agreed that the three linemen inside can do a better job of firing off at the snap.
“I think just the ability to get the push, and I think we had a little bit of push again (against Georgia Southern),” he said. “That made it easier to run the triple option and gave us some opportunities, and when you can get your base play going it makes it a little bit easier to call plays.”
On defense, Tech’s opponents on third down are converting 50 percent, which is the highest in the ACC.
Partially as a result, Tech’s offense has run only 419 plays this season. Miami (360) and Boston College (406) are the only teams that have run less and they have each played only six games to Tech’s seven. Johnson said there are games that the offense has been poor on third down, which also explains the lack of plays. Tech is converting 43.9 percent of its third downs.